New Delhi: Abanti Sankaranarayanan, chief strategy and corporate affairs officer, Diageo India has been unanimously elected as the chairman of the board of The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), the industry watchdog said in a statement on Thursday. She was earlier serving the advertising industry association as vice-chairman. Diageo Plc is a British liquor giant which runs its subsidiary United Spirits Ltd in India.

With over two decades of experience in the consumer industry, Sankaranarayanan has been a member of the board of governors of ASCI for four years. She takes over from advertising agency RK Swamy BBDO Pvt. Ltd’s chairman and managing director, Srinivasan K. Swamy.

D. Shivakumar, chairman and chief executive, PepsiCo India Holdings Pvt. Ltd was elected as the vice-chairman and Shashidhar Sinha, chief executive, Media Brands Pvt. Ltd. was re-appointed as the honorary treasurer. Media Brands is a media network owned by Interpublic Group (IPG).

Swamy, the outgoing chairman of ASCI, said “We are glad that we have managed to make ASCI a consumer centric organization in the last one year. We have taken various initiatives as an industry body and I’m delighted to have been an enabler for this year’s journey for ASCI."

Last year, ASCI issued guidelines for celebrity endorsements for brands. It also launched a mobile app which helps consumers lodge complaints about misleading ads. In terms of partnerships, the body has renewed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Department of Consumer Affairs (DoCA) which is currently in its third year. It has also signed two new MoUs with the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and the Ministry of AYUSH. ASCI is a part of the executive committee of International Council on Ad Self-Regulation (ICAS).

Speaking on her new role, Sankaranarayanan said, “I’m looking forward to building on the great foundation that ASCI has created over the years. I would like to build on the credibility as advertising industry watchdog by forging collaborations with both key government bodies and advertisers. The other area would be to expand ASCI’s reach within the advertiser community getting more members on board. It will truly help ASCI’s vision of self regulation."

Sankaranarayanan joined Diageo in June 2010 as the marketing and innovation director responsible for building Diageo’s global brands like Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff, VAT 69 and Cîroc in India.

Prior to Diageo, she served as a member of the Tata Administrative Service (TAS) cadre since 1992, holding key roles managing consumer brands of the Tata Group in India, United Kingdom and the United States. In her 17-year career with the Tata group, she worked across various companies such as Tata Global Beverages, London, the Taj Group of Hotels in Mumbai and New York, Tata Housing & Tata Finance in Mumbai.

Sankaranarayanan is part of various industry bodies including the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) National Committee on FMCG. She is a member of the board of the International Spirits and Wines Association of India (ISWAI), the industry body for domestic alcohol beverage producers in India. She is also the chairman of Four Seasons Wines Ltd and an independent director on the board of retail chain Shoppers Stop Ltd.

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